Locus of Control and Spirituality’s Impact on One’s Gratitude in Life

Literature Review

A number of studies empirical studies have attempted to explore the factors that influence one’s gratitude. Sansone & Sansone (2010) provides a clinical definition of gratitude and defines gratitude as “an individual apprehension of what is meaningful and valuable to oneself.” With regard to this definition, gratitude is perceived as an overall state of appreciation and thankfulness. Several empirical studies have established a link between gratitude and the wellbeing. Fundamentally, experiencing appreciation, thankfulness, and gratitude results in overall positive feeling, which in turn, makes substantial contributions to one’s wellbeing. As a result, gratitude is one of the most important components that determine an individual’s wellbeing (Jo Kreitzer, 2012). In Some of the most important factors highlighted in literature that have a substantial impact on gratitude include locus of control and spirituality. April, Dharani & Peters (2012) defines locus of control as a social and psychological learning theory that denotes the degree to which an individual perceives he/she has control over the environment and his/her life. In addition, April, Dharani & Peters (2012) also perceives locus of control as the manner in which a person accounts for his failures and successes. An individual with internal locus of control tends tend to base his successes and achievements on his own intrinsic motivation and hard work whereas an individual with external locus of control tends to base his successes or failures on outside influences. In defining spirituality, Meezenbroek et al (2012) adopts a nontihestic approach and defines spirituality as “one’s experience of and striving for connection with the essence of life”. This definition embodies three significant dimensions, which includes connectedness with the transcendent; connectedness with nature and with others; and connectedness with oneself.

According to Todd & Nezlek (2012), there is a link between spirituality, locus of control and gratitude. It is apparent that the three concepts are interlinked by the concept of the self in the sense that spirituality focuses on the connectedness of the self, locus of control focuses on how a person controls his/her self and the environment, and gratitude focuses on individual apprehension of what is meaningful and valuable to oneself. In addition, Todd & Nezlek (2012) deduces that all the three facets are important variables in determining individual wellbeing.

Several researchers have attempted to explore the factors that affect individual level of gratitude with most studies focusing on spirituality and locus of control. A previous study conducted by Diessner & Lewis (2007) found out a significant positive correlation between a person’s gratitude and spirituality. Bonner (2002) also reported a strong positive corela6tion between the external locus of control and gratitude. Watkins et al (2003) explore the relationship between spirituality and external locus of control and reported a correlation between internal locus of control and high scores on the GRAT scale; however, other studies have reported mixed findings regarding the same. A study by Todd & Nezlek (2012) to explore the relationship between multiple traits and attributions of success reported no association between gratitude and locus of control.

It is evident from the review of empirical literature that no study has attempted to explore the link between locus of control and spirituality (as a whole) and gratitude, which is the focus for this study and rationale for research. In addition, this study will add to the existing literature on wellbeing. Regarding the significance of ANOVA test in this study, Jo Kreitzer (2012) asserts that ANOVA test is not significant because of the use of self report measure and social desirability; the sample size was relatively small; and that the age of the participants was young and younger individuals do not have experience; as a result, they lack apprehension.


April, K., Dharani, B., & Peters, K. (2012). Impact of Locus of Control on Level of Wellbeing. Review of European Studies , 4 (2), 124-136.

Bonner, K. (2002). Relationships Among Spirituality, Cognitive Processing, and Personal Control. Eberly College of Arts and Sciences .

Diessner, R., & Lewis, G. (2007). Further Validation of the Gratitude, Resentment, and Appreciation Test (GRAT). The Journal of Social Psychology , 147 (4), 445-447.

Jo Kreitzer, M. (2012). Spirituality and Well-Being : Focusing on What Matters. Western Journal of Nursing Research , 34 (6), 707-711.

Meezenbroek, E., Garssen, B., an den Berg, M., Tuytel, G., van Dierendonck, D., Visser, A., et al. (2012). Measuring Spirituality as a Universal Human Experience: Development of the Spiritual Attitude and Involvement List (SAIL). Journal of Psychosocial Oncology , 141-167.

Sansone, R., & Sansone, L. (2010). Gratitide and Wellbeing: The Benefits of Appreciation. Psychiatry , 18-22.

Todd, B., & Nezlek, B. (2012). Whether, When and How is Spirituality Related to Wellbeing? Moving Beyond Single Occassion Questionnaires to Understanding Daily Process. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin , 1-13.

Watkins, C., Woodward, K., Stone, T., & Kolts, R. (2003). Gratitude and Happiness: Development of a Measure of Gratitude and Relationships with Subjective Wellbeing. Social Behavior and Personality , 31 (5), 431-452.

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